RI Red Cross workers on standby during Hurricane Harvey

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — No Rhode Island Red Cross workers are in Texas just yet, but that could soon change as Hurricane Harvey charges ahead.

On Friday night, The National Hurricane Center officially announced Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane. According to Eyewitness News Chief Meteorologist Tony Petrarca, the slow-moving storm is expected to lead to severe inland flooding in cities like Austin, Texas.

“I don’t have an estimate of how many Rhode Islanders that we would need,” Connecticut and Rhode Island Red Cross Chief Communications Officer Stefanie Arcangelo said. “I can tell you that we are going to need at least a couple of thousand Red Cross workers across the country, if not more.”

While Red Cross workers from the Ocean State remain on standby, there are some Rhode Islanders who will be feeling the direct effects of the hurricane.

Kevin Dunn, a Narragansett native who recently moved to The Woodlands, Texas, has a home 30 miles north of Houston.

“I’m used to the snow, the nor’easters and the wind,” Dunn said. “I’m not used to this 30 inches of rain they’re forecasting.”

As Harvey bears down on Texas, Dunn said grocery store shelves are bare and his childrens’ school is cancelled.

“The water was empty, all the shelves were completely empty. It was surreal. I think at that point I realized, this is serious.”

Storm surges and maximum sustained winds of 130 mph are expected as Hurricane Harvey hits the Texas coast. Still, URI’s hurricane expert Dr. Isaac Ginis said the storm’s rainfall may prove most problematic.

“I’ve seen forecasts up to 40 or 50 inches of accumulated rainfall,” Ginis said. “What is unusual about this case is that Harvey is coming in with not only a significant amount of rain, but also very strong wind.”

According to Ginis, that combination could produce significant damage, including widespread power outages in The Lone Star State.

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